As we continue research for our book on living, working and retiring in Mexico, the cost-of-living questions rears its head... time and time again. Can I really live like a bachelor king on $500 a month? How about $900? Is $2,000 okay for a family? Did I hear somebody say $4,000? Help!
Well explore this topic here on a regular basis, but my quick answer to all of the above is an ambiguous Yes, but.... In Michoacan or Minnesota the true cost of living basically depends on your ability to economize. If you can comfortably do without such frills as frequent long-distance phone calls, daily maid service, American-made Corn Flakes, and the Sunday New York Times, youll probably get by in Mexico without undue suffering. We know lots of people who get by quite happily on monthly budgets of $1200, $1000, and even much less.
On the other hand, if your current monthly expenses tear a huge hole out of a $5,000 paycheck, chances are good that youll need serious retraining to economize in Mexico. Weve observed that people who live on limited incomes in the north usually find it easier to take advantage of Mexicos lower prices than their more affluent neighors. For example, I often see gringos here who shop for groceries with their minds and wallets on automatic pilot. These are the conspicuous consumers merchants dream about. With only a cursory glance at prices, theyll load their shopping carts with expensive but familiar products, virtually all of them imported to Mexico at considerable extra cost. They might grumble for a few moments at the checkstand, but they fork over the money for these necessities time and time again.
The best way to estimate how much it will actually cost to live in Mexico is to study the example of others. To help you make these calculations, well soon publish the first in a series of interviews that include dollars-and cents details from resident foreigners throughout Mexico. Our true confessions interview begins with a couple living near Puerto Vallarta. They are in their 40s, own their own home, and appear to get by quite nicely on several hundred dollars a month. If this appeals to you, check back here to read our interview with Robert & Deborah....